UConn takes first steps toward new on-campus ice hockey arena


File- UConn women’s hockey faces off against Merrimack at the Freitas Ice Forum during the 2017-18 season. (Jon Sammis/ The Daily Campus)

It appears there’s a drastic makeover on the way for ice hockey in Storrs.  

The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees has approved the construction of a new 2,500-seat ice hockey arena, the university released in a statement on Wednesday. The arena would be connected to the Freitas Ice Forum, the current game day residence of UConn women’s hockey and the practice rink for both men’s and women’s programs. After originally looked at as target for expansion, Freitas would remain in use as a practice facility.

The majority of men’s hockey games will still take place at the XL Center in Hartford but the intent is for their to be six or seven home games on UConn’s campus a year. The men’s team had played at Freitas since its opening in 1998 but moved to Hartford in conjuncture with their inaugural 2014-15 season in Hockey East.

The new arena’s proposed number of 2,500 seats is lower than the minimum of 4,000 seats that UConn was expected to provide as a qualification for joining Hockey East. The university petitioned the league to allow fewer seats when it determined it could not expand Freitas sufficiently. Construction on Freitas was scheduled to begin in 2017.

“I am grateful to the University for its continued support of our student athletes,” director of athletics David Benedict said in a statement. “Hockey East has been a great home for both our hockey programs and it was important for us to follow through on the commitment we made to the league four years ago.” 

Facilities inside Freitas, including the locker rooms and coaches’ offices, will also be renovated as part of the construction. This is to reduce the cost of building separate facilities in the new arena according to the university press release.

After approval by the Board of Trustees, a plan will need to be formally submitted by Oct. 31 outlining the new arena’s potential grounds and finances.

According to athletics spokesperson Patrick McKenna, the construction of the new arena will likely be complete in three or four years.

Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.

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